I was recently interviewed by the financial service firm, BBVA Compass. They asked for my thoughts on failure. I said that failure was overrated and that we needed a different mindset. Here are some sound bites from my interview/article
“I don’t believe that failure is necessary in general. I also don’t believe that the answer always resides in books, articles, or training classes. The key is running small, scalable experiments. Experiments only fail when you fail to disprove an incorrect hypothesis. Unfortunately, we are wired as human beings to prove what we believe to be true. As Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit once said, ‘For each of our failures we had spreadsheets that looked awesome.’”
“When you have an idea you want to test, start small. What’s the least expensive, fastest, lowest risk way to prove the concept? More importantly, what’s the safest way to disprove the concept? First, test things out in a “laboratory” but quickly move to test the idea with the market. What do they like? What don’t they like? Run some online tests via Google AdWords or other means to test interest…The key is to keep your investment low in the beginning until you have enough evidence that you have a winner. And then scale. Another option is to push the risk of failure into the market through crowdsourcing. When you do this, you force the market to experiment until they find a solution. You then pay for the solution based on value not time invested. You could have dozens or hundreds of teams working to find a solution to your problem, but only one is declared the winner and claims the prize.”
“If you buy into the concept of scalable experiments, then the best way to avoid failure is to make sure you run experiments specifically designed to disprove your hypotheses. Put people who will play a devil’s advocate role on the team. Do everything in your power to show why your idea is a bad one. And if for some reason an idea passes this level of scrutiny and still fails to perform in the market, make sure you learn from it. What would you do differently in the future to avoid this from happening again?”
And there is much more in the article. You can read all of it on the BBVA Compass website. Enjoy!